Pacific Coast Village has long set the benchmark for retirement living in New Zealand. Now, the Bay of Plenty retirement village is setting the scene in sustainability, with a raft of initiatives reaping some very real environmental rewards.
Pacific Coast Village has been part of Tauranga City Council’s Resource Wise Business Programme since 2019, working hard behind the scenes to minimise operational waste that ends up in a landfill. As a member of the Programme, the village has an annual waste audit to identity areas of improvement.
Pacific Coast Village’s second external waste audit in January revealed that 68% of waste has now been diverted from landfill, taking the village from bronze to silver status. And, they’re not stopping there! They are now on track to divert 90% of the village’s waste, and ambitious further initiatives are in the pipeline to tackle the village’s operational waste.
The Resource Wise Business Programme waste audit includes an intensive sorting process, based on the SWAP (Solid Waste Analysis Protocol) standards – a nationally recognised method of waste auditing in New Zealand. All operational waste from the village is emptied onto a sorting table and separated into 27 categories, each category is weighed, and the data used to determine how waste minimisation efforts are going.
The January audit showed Pacific Coast Village is diverting 97% of recyclable containers from landfill, along with all green landscaping waste, waste kitchen oil, and a large portion of food waste. “The waste audits allow us to monitor the progress and effectiveness of different initiatives,” Generus Project Executive Liane Leesment says.
“Since the latest audit Pacific Coast has introduced an additional food waste bin, to divert all remaining compostable restaurant waste. In combination with earlier initiatives from village worm farms to and organising collection for the pig farm, there is no longer any food waste from the kitchen going to landfill. This is a huge achievement.”
Promisingly, the region has been developing sustainability efforts alongside the village. The council offers kerbside food waste collection, which provides the wider community and local businesses such as Pacific Coast Village a helping hand with their waste minimisation efforts. Liane is responsible for overseeing the retirement group’s sustainability initiatives and is working closely with the two Bay of Plenty villages on a pilot programme for the nationwide group.
“Environmental and social responsibility have always been an important part of Generus’ values, but the last 18 months have been about creating a clear sustainability strategy. We want to discover how we can integrate sustainability into our day-to-day operations and create vibrant and resilient communities” she says.
“It is critical to also involve the residents to ensure our efforts are aligned with their needs. Regular sustainability newsletters, introduction of workshops and a recent Resident Sustainability Survey have ensured relevance, and helped to identify where additional support and services can be provided by our village teams."
“It has been very encouraging to hear how important sustainable lifestyle is to our residents and team alike and we are thrilled to be on this journey together,” says Liane.
The Generus Living Group are heartened by the success of the pilot in the Bay of Plenty and the level of resident engagement and we are look forward to extending this focus to our other villages throughout the country.
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